On Thursday, Pennsylvania’s Department of Health officials added anxiety disorder to the state’s list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, potentially opening access to more than a million residents.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the DOH Medical Marijuana Advisory Board confirmed anxiety as the state’s 22nd qualifying condition this week after a review by Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine. In addition to anxiety disorder, Levine and the DOH approved Tourette’s syndrome as the program’s 23rd qualifying condition.
"I did not take this decision lightly,” Levine said in a statement. "For both conditions, medical marijuana is not first-line treatment and should not replace traditional therapies, but should be used in conjunction with them, when recommended by a physician.”
Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program began retail dispensary sales in early 2018, and has since registered more than 137,000 patients. With the addition of anxiety and Tourette’s to the list of qualifying conditions, though, that number could quickly grow at an exponential rate.
According to statistics from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America dug up by Inquirer reporter Sam Wood, some 18% of all Americans suffer from anxiety disorder, potentially translating to more than 1.7 million Pennsylvanians.
While a number of states approve specific forms of anxiety disorder like PTSD as qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, only two other states — New Jersey and Ohio — consider general anxiety disorder reason enough to access legal weed. Coincidentally, Pennsylvania neighbors both of those states.
In addition to the nearly million-plus Keystone State residents that could soon qualify for medical cannabis, more than 200,000 Americans suffer from Tourette’s syndrome, pushing the program’s scope even further. The new program expansions will go into effect next week, on July 21st.
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